Ahmed* waits for me in a parking lot at the northern edge of Gothenburg, Sweden. It’s a dreary November morning in his hometown, and he’s standing on a patch of grass in an expanse of damp concrete and gray sky. He’s likable, a shy but friendly 25-year-old who greets me with an earnest handshake and expresses himself clearly and politely in English.
He’s also a member of the Islamic State, the vicious group of Sunni extremists now at war with a US-led coalition of more than 60 countries. Over scalding coffee and chocolate doughnuts in a nearby fast-food restaurant, he explains why he joined.
The Islamic State controls large parts of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared “caliphate” where militants enforce a fanatical interpretation of Islamic law and have committed widely publicized atrocities